FILE PHOTO: A guard walks inside the office of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in Mumbai, India, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Sun Pharma to test pancreatitis drug in COVID-19 patients in India

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Friday it has received Indian regulatory approval to start clinical trials of a pancreatitis drug in COVID-19 patients.

The company joins other Indian drugmakers Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Strides Pharma Science Ltd that are conducting trials in India for potential drugs for COVID-19, which currently has no approved treatment or vaccine.

Sun Pharma said here the pancreatitis drug, nafamostat mesilate, has been "identified as a potential candidate for COVID-19 patients by scientists at University of Tokyo and Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Germany".

The company said it has initiated manufacturing of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and the finished product of the drug using technology from its unit, Pola Pharma Japan.

In April, the University of Tokyo announced plans for a trial of nafamostat mesilate and camostat mesilate, a related drug, licensed in Japan and South Korea to treat chronic pancreatitis.

Sun Pharma shares gained after the announcement, and closed up 3.3% at 474.25 rupees. Shares in Indian drugmakers have been on a tear this year, with the Nifty pharma index rising 21.5% so far.